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It’s 45 days since I last had an alcoholic drink. I think it was last year I did a two month abstinence spell through choice. A few years ago, I easily managed three months. This time, the self-deprivation has been to give my body the best possible chance to prepare for and recover from surgery, and to avoid causing any problems with the prescription medication.

Captain Sensible. Me? Never!

Apart from this time.

I really don’t want to go through this surgery malarkey again. I had pledged to myself to do anything I could to make it an easier journey for my body to heal.

Two days ago I finished my last Pregabalin tablet. Reading about it, it can be a very scary drug indeed, if your body objects to it or if you become addicted. I’m happy to have finished the course but beejaysus, I hadn’t appreciated how well it was working for me until now. Having stopped it, despite the fact I was taking the lowest dose possible, it’s a tad brutal.

First off, I’m feeling more than a little nauseous.

Secondly, there is a sensation of being ‘jangly’. Everything feels more than slightly intolerant - weird and on edge, both physically and emotionally. Achy, tired, head-achy, prickly and ‘stabby-hurty’ too, all over my middle and lower back. Plus I’m cold, so resort to snuggling down under the duvet for a couple of hours.

Thirdly, I can feel with complete precision exactly where the screws have been put into my spine.

It all hurts.

It hurts enough that the very short ‘experiment’ of being totally drug free has had to come to an abrupt and unexpected end.

It also hurts in places where things haven’t hurt before and I’m not really sure why. Perhaps over compensating? Maybe I’ve been on medication for so long I never knew those other places were a problem? After all, Mr Arthur Ritis seems to be getting everywhere and into every possible joint now. Could be my body readjusting after the joyous Pregabalin holiday? Maybe it’s my body’s way of reminding me not to do too much?

Crossing my knobbly fingers it works, I am resorting back to paracetamol which feels like a disappointing step backwards.

I know the hard stuff is done with, so in reality it’s not a regression, but I had my sights set, perhaps unrealistically, on no more painkillers.

I guess that was abject folly and I will weather the storm.

To be perfectly frank, a couple of days ago I was truly looking forward to having a gin and tonic this evening, when I hoped the hard stuff would have worked its way out of my system.

That’s definitely not going to happen.

I haven’t missed drinking at all, apart from one day when I felt I could really murder a glass of red wine. Common sense or even cowardice reigned and I didn’t have one, for fear of causing some terrifying backlash.

And I’m not sure about roast dinner either, later this evening. Cooking or the eating thereof; neither really seem very appealing at present.

As it turns out, the cooker element declares itself completely knackered so we cannot have a roast anyway. The electricity clicks off every time we turn the oven on. The element has given up and is shorting out.

There’s a very rich beef stew left over from yesterday so we make inroads into that instead, hoiking it from inside the oven onto the hob.

The nausea appears to subside as the evening progresses.

Nighttime is the worst though for many, many weeks. I lie bathed in pools of sweat, wide awake for hours and hours upon end. Just as bad as any menopausal drenching.

As dawn is cracking and the birds are shouting, lying on my side, I fall into an exhausted slumber, waking an hour or so later in utter agony.

My lower back and pelvis feels like it is being squeezed in a vice. I struggle to log roll over onto my back.

Lying prostrate, the pain subsides but then I start to shiver. Ten minutes later I’m doused in sweat once more and the sheets are wringing wet yet again, tired but unable to sleep.

It’s a relief to get up and shower.

Only 10h00 and I’m now already definitely looking forward to the sun being over the yard arm somewhere in the world. I don’t think I give a fig about how alcohol is meant to disrupt your sleep, or cause night sweats. Let’s face it, it’s not going to be any worse than last night.

I just want to be a bit normal.

So I count down all day until the time Simon sits and pours himself a glass of wine.

Only to find myself saying ‘no’. I really don’t fancy it at all.

After all that.

Definitely not normal.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Jill, a RHS gold medal winning English professional gardener, garden designer and landscaper living in South West France since 2012. This is a personal account of my gardening life, some of the jolly and occasionally not so jolly japes that ensued while working, that probably caused my subsequent back problems.

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